List-Based Queries

When we have large datasets from the database in our application, we wish to display them in a ListView, RecyclerView or some other component that recycles it's views. Instead of running a potentially very large query on the database, converting it to a List and then keeping that chunk of memory active, we can lazy-load each row from the query/table.

DBFlow makes it easy using the FlowCursorList, for simple BaseAdapter-like methods, or the FlowQueryList, which implements the List interface.

Getting one of these lists is as simple as:

FlowQueryList<MyTable> list =
    .where(...) // some conditions
FlowCursorList<MyTable> list =
    .where(...) // some conditions

    list.close(); // ensure you close these, as they utilize active cursors :)
val list = (select from MyTable::class where (...)).cursorList
val list = (select from MyTable::class where (...)).flowQueryList

Any query method allows you to retrieve a default implementation of each. You can also manually instantiate them:

FlowQueryList<MyTable> list = new FlowQueryList.Builder<>(
  .cachingEnabled(false) // caching enabled by default

FlowCursorList<MyTable> list = new FlowCursorList.Builder<>(
  .modelCache(cache) // provide custom cache for this list


Both of these classes come with the ability to cache Model used in it's queries so that loading only happens once and performance can remain high once loaded. The default caching mechanism is a ModelLruCache, which provides an LruCache to manage loading Model.

They are done in almost the same way:

FlowCursorList<MyTable> list = new FlowCursorList.Builder<>(
  .modelCache(cache) // provide custom cache for this list
FlowQueryList<MyTable> list = new FlowQueryList.Builder<>(


The FlowCursorList is simply a wrapper around a standard Cursor, giving it the ability to cache Model, load items at specific position with conversion, and refresh it's content easily.

The FlowCursorList by default caches its results, for fast usage. The cache size is determined by the ModelCache you're using. Read on here.

The FlowCursorList provides these methods:

  1. getItem(position) - loads item from Cursor at specified position, caching and loading from cache (if enabled)
  2. refresh() - re-queries the underlying Cursor, clears out the cache, and reconstructs it. Use a OnCursorRefreshListener to get callbacks when this occurs.
  3. getAll() - returns a List of all items from the Cursor, no caching used
  4. getCount() - returns count of Cursor or 0 if Cursor is null
  5. isEmpty() - returns if count == 0
  6. clearCache() - manually clears cache

Flow Query List

This class is a much more powerful version of the FlowCursorList. It contains a FlowCursorList, which backs it's retrieval operations.

This class acts as List and can be used almost wherever a List is used. Also, it is a FlowContentObserver see Observability, meaning other classes can listen for its specific changes and it can auto-refresh itself when content changes.

Feature rundown:

  1. List implementation of a Query
  2. FlowContentObserver, only for the table that it corresponds to in its initial ModelQueriable query statement. Mostly used for self refreshes.
  3. Transact changes to the query asynchronously (note that this refreshes itself every callback unless in a transaction state)
  4. Caching (almost same implementation as FlowCursorList)

List Implementation

The List implementation is mostly for convenience. Please note that most of the modification methods (add, addAll etc.) may not affect the query that you expect it to, unless the object you pass objects that are valid for the query and you enable self refreshes.

The retrieval methods are where the query works as you would expect. get() calls getItem() on the internal FlowCursorList, isEmpty(), getCount(), etc all correspond to the Cursor underneath.

Both FlowQueryList and FlowTableList support Iterator and provide a very efficient class: FlowCursorIterator that iterates through each row in a Cursor and provides efficient operations.

Note: any retrieval operation that turns it into another object (i.e. subList(), toArray, etc) retrieves all objects contained in the query into memory, and then converts it using the associated method on that returned List.

FlowContentObserver Implementation

Using the FlowContentObserver, we can enable self-refreshes whenever a model changes for the table this query points to. See Observability.

To turn on self-refreshes, call registerForContentChanges(context), which requeries the data whenever it changes.

We recommend placing this within a transaction on the FlowQueryList, so we only refresh content the minimal amount of times:


// perform a bunch of modifications


To listen for Cursor refreshes register a OnCursorRefreshListener:

  .addOnCursorRefreshListener(new FlowCursorList.OnCursorRefreshListener<ListModel>() {
      public void onCursorRefreshed(FlowCursorList<ListModel> cursorList) {


Transact Changes Asynchronously

If you want to pass or modify the FlowQueryList asynchronously, set setTransact(true). This will run all modifications in a Transaction and when completed, a Cursor refresh occurs.

You can also register Transaction.Error and Transaction.Success callbacks for these modifications on the FlowQueryList to handle when these Transaction finish.

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